COVID-19 exposes government IT modernization needs.

Due to a historic rise in unemployment claims during the Coronavirus pandemic, many government IT systems are being stretched to their absolute limit. Unfortunately, this has led to many Americans who are still waiting to receive their benefits.

For example, in four months, Wisconsin residents have claimed 4.5 million weeks of unemployment, compared to 1.6 million weeks for all of 2019. The state sprang from a 3% unemployment rate in March 2020 to 14% in April. In fact, recent data shows 140,000 Wisconsinites have a hold on their unemployment claims.

Like many other states, Wisconsin had been looking into modernizing their IT systems for quite some time. Many state applications run on complex legacy systems that officials are too afraid to touch for fear of crashing the entire system.

After all, the risk of legacy modernization project failure is high. When leaders lack a complete understanding of the scope, scale, and details of the functionality they’re about to replace, things can go wrong. When it comes to legacy systems, the back-end processing is often manual, labor intensive, and fraught with bottlenecks.

Government IT leaders are taking another look at new modernization tools available.

However, the COVID-19 crisis is quickly changing mindsets about modernization. According to Scott Bucholtz, Managing Director and CTO for Government and Public Services at Deloitte:

The technologies and approaches people think they know have evolved. People who have been down the journey once might want to take another look.

Even Google has noticed a newfound interest and prioritization from state governments to modernize. States are realizing that that their current systems are too brittle to respond to an emergency situation. Many risks that states were not willing to take before are justified during the pandemic.

Despite calls to modernize, a new Gartner survey predicts that worldwide spending on IT services will decrease 7% this year. This means state governments will need to do more with less. There are ways to accomplish a mainframe modernization project while spending less money and keeping IT systems secure. For example, newer tools such as low-code platforms accelerate modernization while reducing costs and overall risk. By safely connecting your legacy systems to the modern world, you can keep the valuable information embedded in those old systems versus trying to re-write everything you’ve already done.

In the end, mainframe modernization is more important than ever for government IT systems, yet they’re facing a tightening in IT spending. Any government leader who hasn’t looked into modernizing their legacy systems in a while, now is the time.

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